Last month, Hearst launched five of its’ flagship women’s titles on the Hello Style channel http://www.youtube.com/user/HelloStyleChannel, including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire and Harper’s Bazaar, in video format with a $10 million budget provided by YouTube. The initial line-up is a derivative mish-mash of existing features rendered in sound and moving pictures, with the titles rotating five days a week. The oh-so inspiring features include “Sexy vs. Skanky,” “Big Girl in a Skinny World” and “Visible Panty Lines.”
On the surface, this is a natural extension of magazine publishing into the on-line world. Make-up and manicure features become so much more useful when watching the video tutorial on Hello Style as opposed to print.
It also replicates staples of daytime TV, such as the extreme makeover with video; the “exploi-tainment” of unsuspecting woman getting a “runway makeover” (make that a ‘drive-by makeover’) that she doesn’t get to see until after passersby in New York tell her what they think. Initial reactions have been good, although the initial launch flurry of content to stockpile the channel has annoyed early subscribers. You have to say in no respect is it revolutionary, or even very up-market.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the boys flock to their Hearst channel, Car and Driver from May 1st.
Could YouTube Replace Magazines?
This is the big question. This is budget video content that goes down so easy it makes the paper editions of these magazines look obsolete. In fact, Hello Style threatens to cannibalise more than complement the print magazines. The channel itself has a community manager responding to comments on-line and the accompanying Twitter stream is filled with offers and competitions, which begs the question; why bother with the paper version?
Hearst is aiming at the women with disposable income (or at least aspirations, which is all of us) and a computer, tablet, or smart-phone to whom they can push ads from brand partners. With video streaming, it’s easier to carry than five magazines, you can dip in and out just as easily and it’s hardly demanding viewing.
All major magazine publishers are staring down the double barrels of declining advertising revenue and rising print and distribution costs. Why bother producing a printed product at all? It doesn’t take a genius to see publishers becoming flat-out media companies, going on-line only. Hearst isn’t exactly hiding its’ agenda. Executives from Hearst have said they are less concerned with whether channels boost magazine readership, as long as they were successful.
“That doesn’t mean they necessarily need to be reading the magazine. We also have to build content that works on its own terms.” (Jim Meigs, Editorial Director of Hearst’s Men’s Enthusiast Group)
Google is pumping money into YouTube, roughly $100 million this year to various media companies develop new, professional channels in an attempt to attract advertisers to a platform known for talking cats and prat-falls. YouTube is both an on-line institution with a massive world-wide audience and a massive cost-centre for parent Google. There’s no question of it being closed down as a loss-maker, but the ultimatum is clearly on the table; start generating some profit, by any means. SC